PULLMAN – Entering Saturday’s game between Oregon State and Washington State, the fewest passes thrown by the starting quarterback of either team in a game was Connor Halliday of WSU’s 36 against Stanford, and he left that game in the third quarter.
As such, the expectation was that the matchup would be a shootout from the get-go.
The quarterbacks did not disappoint. OSU’s Sean Mannion and WSU’s Connor Halliday combined for 59 passes in the first half alone. The teams combined for 108 throws in the 52-24 OSU blowout. The receiving yards reflected the number of passes thrown as the teams combined to amass 766 yards through the air.
However, all those passes also led to a combined six interceptions in the game. Three straight WSU drives ended with a pick in the fourth quarter, allowing OSU to build its insurmountable lead. Coach Mike Leach blamed the meltdown on a weak mental performance by his team.
“It can’t be physical,” Leach said. “It had to all be psychological. And we have to be tough enough to manage that. How can you play like we did for two-thirds of it and then the other third just let it unravel like that?”
RBs make an impact
Despite the pass-happy nature of the offenses, the running backs for both teams made their presence felt. Storm Woods made his first appearance for the Beavers since suffering a concussion against Colorado on Sept. 14. Even after missing the prior two games, Woods entered as the team’s leading rusher with 152 yards on the ground.
In fitting with the theme of OSU’s offense, Woods did most of his damage through the air. While his 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave the Beavers a 17-10 lead, the running back added 64 yards through the air with two receptions of more than 20 yards. The Cougars bottled up Woods on the ground, limiting him to 18 yards on 12 carries.
A season ago, the Cougars scored six total touchdowns on the ground. They matched that total last week against Cal, and added two more Saturday on scores from Marcus Mason and Jeremiah Laufasa. The Cougars finished with 113 yards on the ground, their first time eclipsing the 100-yard mark since the first game at Auburn.
“Our offensive line did a really great job of blocking,” Laufasa said. “I don’t think I was even getting contact until like 5 yards, so I just give it all to them.”
Creatures of the night
The Cougars operate on a different clock than most college football teams. While night games are a rare curiosity for most college football fans, the Cougars rarely play by the light of day. Saturday’s game against the Beavers marked the fourth time this season that the Cougars kicked off after 7.
It won’t be the last time, as WSU’s matchup against Oregon has already been marked for a 7 start, and the game against Arizona State won’t commence until 7:30. The recent rash of late starts is because of the new television deal with the Pac-12 Network, which sets the game times.